Time for a little “Constitutional Crisis” today. I was sitting there thinking “what if…” and came up with a rather interesting scenario. Granted, it’s very unlikely to happen, but if it did, what WOULD happen?
In the scenario, let’s just say Hillary Clinton beats Donald Trump for the presidency in November. Now, besides having a totally upset stomach right about now, let’s also assume that the GOP maintains a sizable lead in the House, and for grins and giggles, let’s just say that they also increase their lead in the Senate to 60. So it’s a “filibuster proof majority”.
That having been said, Hillary gets inaugurated in January, and the House immediately brings up impeachment proceedings based on her email scandal (assuming of course that a) Loretta Lynch doesn’t have the guts to do the right thing, and b) Bobo Obama does the right thing and doesn’t pardon her). It passes the House easily and goes to the Senate where it’s heard by the Supreme Court. Now…the high court is divided 4-4, so they aren’t going to be able to decide anything that needs a judgement. The Senate is heavily GOP at this point, and let’s just say for grins (I’m grinning a lot today), that they GOP can persuade seven Dems to go along with them in the trial phase. So, they have their 2/3 vote to actually remove Hillary from office for the email scandal.
Now comes the constitutional question. Is Hillary actually able to be impeached and removed for a crime that she committed PRIOR to taking office? A president cannot be tried on anything in a court of law while in office, they must be removed from office first, so in order for her to stand trial, she’d have to be impeached and removed. The constitution doesn’t say anything about WHEN the crime had to be committed…just that it HAD to be committed. And of course, you know this would have to land at the lap of the Supreme Court, who won’t be able to decide it because it would have to end in a 4-4 tie. At that point John Roberts could do one of a couple of things. He could refer it back to the lower court (assuming there was a lower court decision) and their decision would stand. He could also decide that they would delay the decision until they get nine justices on the bench (which wouldn’t happen because the president would appoint the justice, and she’s just been removed from office), or they could even decide not to wade into the mess at all.
I really have no clue on which way this one would go. IF you are going to try a sitting president for any “high crime or misdemeanor” you need to remove them from office first and the process in which to do that is an impeachment, followed by removal. But there is nothing there (I’ve looked) about when the crime had to be committed, or how this whole thing would play out.
Larry Sabato…where are you when we need you?
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!